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Harold M Keshishian Memorial

 

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HALI Magazine #168

EDITORIAL

IN THEIR APPRECIATION OF THE LATE HAROLD KESHISHIAN in this issue, his friends Bruce Baganz (President of the Board of Trustees at The Textile Museum) and Russ Pickering not only fondly remember his spirit and readiness to share his vast experience of and expertise about oriental rugs, but also point out that Harold was the last of the TM's direct links to its founder, George Hewitt Myers, who Harold knew personally. For me, a relative newcomer to the international rug world, I cannot help but be slightly awed by such associations, since much of what I have learnt about rugs, both in terms of publications and collections, can somehow claim descent back to pioneering collectors such as Myers, Joseph McMullan, Arthur Upham Pope, and their fellow founding Hajji Babas. Their influence and stewardship, whether in funding research, publishing books, lecturing, hosting exhibitions or collecting is still evident today, as can be seen in the Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibition celebrating the work of Arthur Pope, introduced by Yuka Kadoi in 'Pope and Chicago' in this issue (pp.64-67). The healthy foundations that they have left behind are being added to bit by bit by a later generation of collectors, who continue to be encouraged to share their knowledge with a wider audience: Sonny Berntsson with his enlightening folkloric research into the rugs of  Cappadocia  (PP.40-47); the-staging of exhibitions with catalogues such as the shows of sumakh bags in Traurt6tein (pp.l08-109), Caucasian rugs in Gothenburg (pp.102-103), and Islamic art in-Dubai (pp.106-107). The deep enthusiasm and excitement felt by collectors in the area of rugs and textiles is impressive and perhaps particular to this field - I cannot think of another area of the art world in which personal commitment gives such momentum, rather than just the market. Alistair McAlpine, in a wide-ranging interview in this issue (PP.27-33), has many apposite things to say about collecting, and indeed dealing: "the chief ingredient of a collector is courage." I particularly applaud his aside to museums that do not delve into their own collections or take their responsibility as custodians seriously enough. In this light it is heartening that the De Young Museum, under its new textile curator Jill D' Alessandro has declared a policy of rediscovering its textile collections. I have tried to find an easy way to segue into a comment about the latest US embargo on Iranian goods, but there is none. By the time you read this, the embargo will be place and it is likely that it will be strongly enforced. It is not my place to comment on US foreign policy or Iranian intransigency in the face of international concern about its nuclear policy, but it is apt for me to comment on the effect this will have on the Iranian rug trade, which was beginning to rebuild a position of strength in the export market to the US after many years of losing ground to India, Pakistan, Nepal and China. The structural effects on manufacturing and market share aside, the reality of the policy is less work for the rural communities engaged in rug weaving in Iran and the many small family businesses involved therein, alas the last people that the sanctions were designed to punish.

Ben Evans
Editor

From the Sunday Washington Post 8-8-10
(to download this article in .pdf, click here)

A Local Life: Harold M. Keshishian, 81, the expert's expert on rugs and carpets

By Matt SchudelWashington Post Staff Writer 
Sunday, August 8, 2010 
For years, on the first Saturday of each month, Harold M. Keshishian would hold court at Washington's Textile Museum. The sessions became known as Mr. Keshishian's ;

Barry O'Connell's words:

Harold Keshishian dead at 81

(http://www.spongobongo.com/ by Barry O'Connell)

 

In my life time I have have many friends but outside of family there are few I truly loved. Harold Keshishian was one of the few I loved like family. Harold died yesterday July 23, 2010 and it is like losing my father all over again. .

Harold was born in London England in 1929 to Mark and Margaret Develetian Keshishian. Mark Keshishian was a great hero, entrepreneur and freedom fighter who waged a one man effort to rescue the family from the Armenian massacres in Turkey after the Great War. I researched Mark when I helped Harold build thewww.Hadjin.com website. It was always a little frustrating that Harold took a very humble approach to his father's story when I thought it was more like an adventure movie plot.

When Harold was two his family moved to New York State to handle some investments which had suffered in the spreading depression. Father Mark pulled things together and relocated to Washington DC where he built DC's premier Oriental Rug store as well as a very successful commercial laundry. The infield of the stadium where the Washington Nationals play is on the site of the commercial laundry.

The family lived a comfortable existence in Washington and all three Keshishian children graduated from University. John the eldest went on to medical school and is today a prominent surgeon. James went to college in Cincinnati graduating from George Washington Univ and Harold graduated from Colorado School of Mines an engineering university located in Golden, Colorado.

Harold once told me he didn't make his money selling, but rather he made his money buying. He developed the knack of investing his money by his great knowledge and foresight. I remember one auction when a lot of Chinese rank badges shot far past the high estimate. Others at the sale were stunned that Harold would bid so much for the badges but what only the underbidder and Harold knew was that they were not Chinese at all but rather the far more rare Korean rank Badges. Whether is was real estate, carpets, or objects d'art Harold had the deep knowledge to make successful acquisitions.

Harold's real love was family. Harold made no secret of the great love he had for his wife Melissa. But more than just love he also respected her as his better in some areas. Harold used to tell me that he bought their farm in Poolesville for the land and how surprised he was that Melissa turned it into a successful business. Harold loved his children very much. I never met his eldest daughter by his first marriage but as a proud father he used to tell me about her latest doings. The younger three Kurt, Christopher, and Jocelyn were a great treasure to Harold particularly over the last several years as he battled cancer. He seemed to draw strength from Melissa and the children as he fought the good fight.

Today when Harold's nephew Mark called me he commented, "who is going to yell at us now'. That is very much the crux of the matter. Harold over the years said things to me that no one else would say but he said them in love and kindness.

Now as I dry my tears and finish this note I am going to light my best cigar and sit in the sun and remember my friend Harold...

Barry

See also: JohnBrown.org, 
Notes on Harold and Melissa Keshishian, 
http://www.hadjin.com/index.html www.Hadjin.com A Town No More, 
Harold Keshishian's Textile Rug Morning Part 1

Obituary


Published in The Washington Post from July 26 to July 28, 2010

Harold M. Keshishian

KESHISHIAN HAROLD M. KESHISHIAN March 20, 1929 - July 23, 2010 On July 23, 2010, HAROLD MARK KESHISHIAN of Washington, DC. Beloved husband of Melissa McGee Keshishian; devoted father of Kirk, Jocelyn, Christopher and Elizabeth and her husband Nicolas Tyler; brother of John Keshishian and his wife Nancy Lee. Also survived by numerous nephews and nieces whom he loved very much. Relatives and friends are invited to call at JOSEPH GAWLERS SONS, INC., 5130 Wisconsin Ave., NW (Corner of Harrison St.) Washington, DC on Wednesday, July 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. Services will be held at Gate of Heaven Cemetery Chapel, 13801 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD on Thursday, July 29 at 1 p.m. Interment private. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Prevent Cancer Foundation, 1600 Duke St., Suite 500, Alexandria, VA 22314 or to Fisher House Foundation, 111 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20850-5168.
Published in The Washington Post from July 26 to July 28, 2010